Living

Why I’m Ditching My City Gardening Life for... an Earthship

Hey alternative food growers, eco-conscious individuals, and off-grid thinkers, did you know there could be a home made specifically for your sustainable lifestyle?

Yes, such dwellings exist outside the world of sci-fi movies, they can be found in different parts of the world, away from the chaotic, expensive food shopping and city living.

Imagine a home that is a one-stop-shop of sustainable living where you don’t have to run to the grocery store for fresh produce or pay utilities to an unsustainable energy grid; it grows food, supplies water, generates energy, and reuses wastes all year round.

Ready to move in? Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Well, earthship homes are not a fairy tale.

An earthship in New Mexico

What is an earthship?

An earthship is constructed with earth-made materials along with recycled items to create, conserve, and recycle energy.  These dwellings are money and natural resource savers that have large indoor vegetable gardens, no-waste water systems, and passive solar energy. Very different from conventional home maintenance indeed!

The indoor garden alone has me ready to move now; how about you? Let’s discover what this kind of sustainable housing is about and its role in providing food access.

An earthship in New Mexico

Why exactly are earthships sustainable?

Before we call the moving truck and leave the city life, let’s find out what goes into earthship building.

Earthship Biotecture by Michael Reynolds, known as a pioneer in earthship construction, provides details to the designing.‌‌

  • Exterior: Outside walls are constructed on three sides of the home with upcycled tires, earth, and concrete. A upcycled aesthetic, how nice!
  • Heating and cooling: External tire walls are thermal masses storing heat and cool air. Solar energy through the glass bottles warms the home during the day. Evening convectional air moves heat into the home for warming. Bye-bye central air and heating furnace bills!
  • Solar and electricity: Batteries, photovoltaic panels, charge control, and inverters provide renewable electricity.  Efficient appliances and daylight into south-facing windows make earthship electrical needs 25% of those of a conventional home. A real powerhouse.
  • Water system: Water harvested from the roof is stored in cisterns, goes through a pump, a filter system, and a solar water heater. The water is then used for bathing, washing, and laundry.
  • Indoor vegetable garden: Used water feeds vegetable crops in the south-facing window holding an indoor growing space. Food is harvested all year ready to be cooked and consumed, making the earthship food secure. Now that’s fast food.
  • Waste system: Plants use and treat gray water to be pumped for toilet flushing.

Earthship basics from Earthship Biotecture

These features allow occupants to be resilient living off-grid, especially in times of unforeseen disasters

What is gardening like in earthships?

I’m a Chicago homeowner practicing urban homesteading suffocating from food disparities and over-development. I’m exhausted as I try to sustain my food and health in a city that goes against my true lifestyle.

I know that earthship indoor vegetable garden can be favorable for sustainable living, so earthship living is ideal for me.

Here are some reasons why:

  • Freedom to live and eat on my own term
  • Power over personal food production: seed to table
  • More reliance on nature, less on the industrial food system
  • Resilience in times of climate change
  • Vegetable cultivation no matter the weather
  • Less exposure to harmful additives and preservatives
  • Food production functions on a reliable alternative home system
An earthship in New Mexico

Where does I start?

Building an earthship can seem overwhelming, but remember, you won’t be alone!

Earthships are for sale — or can be built from the ground up. Do your research to understand off-grid living as well as all of the materials and space needed to have an earthship.

Here are sources of information out there waiting for you to discover:

An earthship in Brighton

Final thoughts

Do you think earthships are good alternatives to living and eating? Are they worth leaving the city life of non-renewable resources and industrial food systems? Lower bills, immediate food access, and completely sustainable living are worth it for me personally.

What about you?  Share your comments and ideas below!


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About Jacqueline Smith

Jacqueline is a guest writer at NatureHub. She writes about her experience and knowledge about sustainable urban gardening, permaculture, homesteading, and food forests.
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